Civil War Preservation

This month’s Park Day 2009 will draw thousands of volunteers to the nation’s Civil War sites to help the National Park Service with its annual cleanup effort.

The March 28 event is a project of the Civil War Preservation Trust, which on Wednesday announces this year’s list of endangered Civil War battlefields.

Three area Civil War interpretation and restoration projects under way in Mississippi Civil War Trail cities are intended to keep these landmarks off any endangered list.

One project is an expansion of the Brices Crossroads Visitors Center in Baldwyn to include exhibits and interpretation of the Battle of Tupelo.

“We’ve been involved in the Civil War Trails program for a number of years funded through the Mississippi Department of Transportation,” said Jim Woodrick of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. “Incorporating portions of the Battle of Tupelo into the museum at Brices Crossroads will make it more of a regional draw.”

Officials are acquiring exhibits, maps and interactive experiences for the 1,200-square-foot addition to the current 2,800-square-foot visitors center, said curator Edwina Carpenter.

“The Battle of Tupelo, or Harrisburg, happened six weeks after Brices Crossroads and was part of the same campaign,” Carpenter said. “Four other locations will be included in the interpretation, including property acquired from George Creely off Mount Vernon Road where part of the Battle of Tupelo was fought.”

Creely signed over the property several weeks ago.

The Battle of Tupelo is also known as the Battle of Harrisburg, a village overtaken by Tupelo as the city grew. Fighting between Confederate and Federal soldiers occurred July 14-15, 1864.

Three other interpretive sites are included in this project:

– A pulloff and sign in Prentiss County on Mississippi Highway 370 at the Tishomingo Creek Bridge.

– Two other pulloffs with signs in Union County on County Road 168 and County Road 167 along a trail that joins the burial places of two Confederate soldiers.

– Nearby White House Ridge, where Union soldiers made their last stand during the Battle of Tupelo.

“We were awarded this Transportation Enhancement Act grant of $1.5 million several years ago,” Carpenter said. “The designs are under review by the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and we hope to have permission to advertise for bids in three to four months.”

Col. W.P Rogers statue
In Corinth, two groups are engaged in preservation efforts.

The Col. W.P. Rogers Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to save the statue of its namesake, and Friends of the Verandah-Curlee House Museum are hosting a major fundraiser next month to build their restoration fund.

Camp Commander Buddy Ellis has asked the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors to encourage state legislators to pass funding for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History that could be used for the Col. Rogers project. The statue sits on the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn.

“The monument is over 100 years old and in desperate need of restoration,” Ellis said. “The local Sons of Confederate Veterans camps have raised nearly $13,000″ toward a total cost estimated at almost $25,000.

There are areas where the statue is cracked and pieces have broken away. If MDAH receives the state appropriation, the agency has committed to helping fund the balance, Ellis said.

Verandah-Curlee House
Also in need of repairs is the Verandah-Curlee House Museum. Several hundred thousand dollars is needed for extensive structural repairs at the 1857 National Historic Landmark.

The foundation that manages the museum has received some grant funding and is seeking more.

In addition, the Friends group is presenting a home tour on April 25, the proceeds of which will go into the museum’s restoration fund.

A 2007 structural engineer’s report said the building’s foundation, floor framing and roof framing are top priorities.

Oxford architect Tom Howorth was recently hired to develop a master plan for the building, and he is conducting another examination of the building to determine how to proceed.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchell/Daily Journal